Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
In Meg Whitman, Wall Street, 'Billionaire Sociopaths' and the Media 'Substance Deficit' I reported:
Apparently Whitman now feels that campaigning exclusively by way of paid-for propaganda (political ads) will not be enough to evade scrutiny of her economic "plan" to "rescue" California's economy (a rehash of Bush tax cuts for wealthy people and business, the elimination of climate change regulations and imposition of further draconian spending cuts to a state government already operating on life support --- a plan which a group of economists, including Stanford University's Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate, have derided as policies which would "deepen California's budget crisis and are likely to reduce employment and economic growth").
Whitman has now pandered to what she may mistakenly believe was a majority of Californians who voted against marriage equality in passing Proposition 8...
Fealty to the Constitution; not to the Whims of the Majority
Picking up on Whitman's effort to slam both CA Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and her Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Jerry Brown for their refusal to join the Prop 8 proponents in the appeal of Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's determination that the state's ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional, George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "The attorney general's job is to defend and enforce state laws. People didn't elect him chief judge. They elected him chief law officer."
Skelton's comment typifies the erroneous beliefs of an uninformed public. The oath of office does not mandate that either the governor or the attorney general mindlessly apply the whim of the majority. It mandates that they both support and defend the constitution.
As aptly observed by Brown's spokesperson, Sterling Clifford said, as quoted by Skelton, "If the voters pass something that the state's lawyer thinks is unconstitutional, then it would be irresponsible for him to invest time and energy and resources on what ultimately is a losing battle."
Brown did not substitute his judgment for that provided by the court. That judgment was rendered by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, a Stanford Law School graduate who was appointed to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1987.
Judge Walker's carefully crafted decision [PDF] included a factual determination of a biological basis for homosexuality. This would subject the effort to deny marital equality on the basis of gender to strict scrutiny. That finding renders Prop 8 presumptively unconstitutional under long-established Equal Protection analysis.
The court's factual finding that the proponents of the ballot measure had failed to establish harm caused by same sex marriage to heterosexual marriages establishes that there is no cognizable state interest in preventing marital equality even under minimum scrutiny (aka "rational basis test") of Equal Protection analysis.
The decision fully supports Brown's determination that joining in the likely-to-be-defeated appeal would be a waste of precious taxpayer resources by a state which is already running a nearly $25 billion deficit, courtesy of Republican starve-the-beast economics.
The attorney general is an officer of the court. He has an ethical duty not to pursue an appeal which he knows to be without merit, especially when the purpose of that appeal would be to deprive LGBT citizens of their right to Equal Protection under the law.
A majority of voters may not have approved Prop 8
Most of the media, corporate and alternative, and even attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, in challenging the Constitutionality of Prop 8, have proceeded on the assumption that it was actually "approved" by a majority of those who cast votes in the 2008 election.
As reported by The BRAD BLOG last January, an analysis of the Election Verification Exit Poll performed in Los Angeles on the day of the 2008 election revealed a likelihood that "fraud or gross errors" occurred in the tabulation of Prop 8 and that the outcome was "probably corrupted."
Wall Street Meg Hides Behind Slick Propaganda and Prop 8 Posturing
Please excuse the repetition, but with so little real media coverage, it is appropriate to repeat a segment of my previous piece, which I add solely for the benefit of those who have yet to read it:
Against the backdrop of a supposedly selfless citizen willing to spend $150 million of her own money in order to rescue the good citizens of California from those evil tax and spend Democrats, CAP [California Accountability Project] noted that for "most of her life, Whitman didn’t bother to even cast a vote in a number of important elections, let alone participate in shaping public policy."
It's not that Whitman was completely divorced from politics. As revealed by the San Francisco Chronicle, in "2008, during the heart of the financial crisis, Meg Whitman was advising Presidential candidate John McCain to support the federal bank bailout" --- no doubt out of the same benevolent spirit that led to her decision to run for governor. I mean, who but a cynic would point to the "20 Goldman Sachs investment funds in which Meg Whitman is an investor or partner" including "more than $1 million each in two Goldman Sachs 'distressed opportunity' funds, or so-called 'vulture funds,' which swoop in on failing assets and recession-ravaged companies?"
The Chronicle went on to report:
In 2001, Goldman put Whitman on its corporate board, paying her an estimated $475,000 for little more than a year of part-time service. The company also gave her insider access to the initial public offerings of hot stocks worth millions...
According to Salon's Lance Williams, Whitman received the $475,000 for attending perhaps a half dozen Goldman Sachs board meetings over the span of 15 months, though her stint at Goldman did include service on the board's compensation committee which twice signed off on lucrative bonuses for then Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. Williams reviewed records which showed that "Paulson’s 2001 bonus package was $11.5 million, more than 19 times his salary," before he left the firm to become George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary.
As Bush's fox guarding the hen house, Paulson, in 2008, led the movement to saddle U.S. taxpayers with the massive debt run up courtesy of the Wall Street casino, otherwise known as the derivatives market in mortgage-backed securities --- an event which Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winning economist described as "the Great American Bank Robbery."
While it can at least be said that Goldman Sachs was raking it in at the same time Paulson received his bonuses, the same cannot be said of Whitman, whose annual compensation package, as reported by Eric Jackson of The Street.com, spiked during her last two years at eBay, "even as eBay's stock price continued to decline. Peaking at $58 at the start of 2005, eBay's stock price dropped 43% over the next three years. Over that same period, Whitman's total annual compensation almost quintupled to $13.9 million from $2.9 million."
Where Whitman touts her own success at eBay, a Brad Stone New York Times piece noted that eBay's growth hinged on the eventually unsustainable practice of raising seller fees, and that Whitman's 2005 decision to purchase Skype, an internet phone and video service, based on the mistaken assumption that sellers and buyers would want to speak with one another before closing deals, ultimately forced eBay to write off "more than half of the $2.6 billion purchase price."
Whitman's tenure on the Goldman Sachs board ended abruptly after she was identified by Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH) as one of 21 business executives to receive lucrative IPOs from Goldman Sachs, engaging in a practice known as "spinning."
In "Meg Whitman has her own definition of the 'right thing,'" Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times explains:
Where Whitman denied in her book, The Power of Money (2010), that there was so much as a "conflict of interest," let alone a quid pro quo between the lucrative IPOs she and other eBay executives received and the eBay investment banking business they steered to Goldman, a Delaware judge, in denying the executives' motion to dismiss a shareholder suit, found otherwise, noting that Whitman and her fellow executives "'were not free to accept this consideration from a company' that arguably hoped to induce them to keep funneling business its way. Whitman and the other executives eventually settled the lawsuit by giving up their profits."
Memo to 'Tea Baggers': Billionaire Sociopaths Do Not Want to Save You or the Economy
For the benefit of the uninitiated, I'm again appending the trailer to Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. The billionaires who are funding your "Tea Party" are exploiting your ignorance in order to further their interest which is to, in the words of former Vice President Henry Wallace, "keep the common man in eternal subjugation."
As I explained in Meg Whitman, Wall Street, 'Billionaire Sociopaths' and the Media 'Substance Deficit':
The answer, I fear, may well be found in William K. Black's The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. The best way for Wall Street to pillage a state is to have one of their own installed as a governor.
Folks need to awake to the ugly reality, and right soon!
Trailer for Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story follows...
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).